Watertown Town Manager Michael Driscoll got a big vote of confidence from the Town Council Tuesday night by getting a salary increase of nearly $25,ooo.
Councilors and residents said they believed Driscoll deserved a raise because of his good management of the town – particularly financially – and his hard work.
“You are not going to find a person who works harder for the citizens or the community,” said Council President Mark Sideris. “Come here [Town Hall] on a Sunday and the lights are on. He’s here working.”
The Council had not given Driscoll a raise for several years because the town had unsettled contracts. Most recently, the Firefighters union settled after 6 years without a contract.
“We didn’t think it was appropriate to look at the manager’s salary with out having contracts settled,” Sideris said.
Resident Bob Johnson said the town survived the economic downtown in good fashion.
“The years 2008, 2009 and 2010 were hard years for many, but he kept this town always in the black,” Johnson said. “How can we not want to pay the man?”
Resident Jay Hughes noted that during Driscoll’s time as Town Manager, Watertown has built a new Police Station, a new Fire Station, expanded the library, renovated Victory Field and they have all come in at or below budget. All this was accomplished without an override.
The fact that the town has a AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s was a big deal for many councilors.
Councilor Angeline Kounelis said she also admires the way he manages town.
“We haven’t always agreed on the way things should be, but it is not easy to manage the budget,” Kounelis said. “He works intimately with so many people. He keeps everyone in line. We go to him when we need assistance. We go to him when we have a question.”
Looking at how his salary compared to other nearby communities, Sideris said Driscoll had the lowest, at $148,292. The average of the town managers in surrounding towns is $183,523, with a hight of $209,179 in Lexington.
Driscoll’s salary is below town employees, too. School Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald makes $180,000, the salary for of the police chief (the town is searching for a permanent chief) is $175,170 and Fire Chief Mario Orangio makes $156,042.
The Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a salary increase for Driscoll, including increases for prior years. To change the Town Manager’s salary, the town’s ordinance must be amended.
The vote kept Driscoll’s salary at $148,292 in Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. In Fiscal 2015, his salary was changed to $166,000 plus a service award payment of $5,708 for a total of $171,708. In FY2016 his salary will be $172,500, plus a service award payment of $11,708 for a total of $184,208.
The service payments make up for increases that Driscoll would have received in FY2013 and 2014, but the Council cannot go back more than two years to give raises, Sideris said.